Fast food v. restaurants: who wins?
You may feel better about yourself for choosing a restaurant meal over a greasy fast-food joint on a Friday night, but don't celebrate just yet. According to a new study, meals in pricier venues can be just as bad as fast-food takeaways and contain as much cholesterol and salt as somewhere like McDonald's.
Researchers at the University of Illinois studied the data of 18,098 US adults, with Professor Ruopeng An looking into statistics from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey taken over eight years.
Restaurant food's high levels of potassium, vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids were a positive, but on the negative front, there was more cholesterol and sodium in these meals.
Eating at home came out top, and those who dined at fast-food joints only consumed 10mg more cholesterol than those who ate home-cooked dishes.
Eating in a restaurant or fast-food venue saw 10g more fat consumed, along with 3.49g more saturated fats for restaurant eaters and 2.46g more saturated fat for the former.
"People who ate at full-service restaurants consumed significantly more cholesterol per day than people who ate at home," the professor explained in a statement.
"This extra intake of cholesterol, about 58mg per day, accounts for 20 per cent of the recommended upper bound of total cholesterol intake of 300mg per day."
Professor An also highlighted the sodium levels, and that eating too much can increase blood pressure. Fast-food firms add around 300mg of sodium to a person's daily diet, whereas restaurants add a whopping 412mg.
"These findings reveal that eating at a full-service restaurant is not necessarily healthier than eating at a fast-food outlet," Professor An added.
"In fact, you may be at higher risk of overeating in a full-service restaurant than when eating fast-food. "
The advice given is to avoid eating out where possible and to prepare as many home-cooked meals as you can so you know exactly what is going into your dishes.